Recipes » Side Dish Recipes » Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

| | | |
5 from 9 votes
This southern heritage recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole has a layer of buttery, cooked sweet potatoes topped with a crunchy pecan and brown sugar streusel.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Sweet potato casserole in a baking dish with a vintage serving spoon.

This delicious heritage recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole starts with a smooth, buttery layer of cooked sweet potatoes and is topped with a crunchy pecan and brown sugar streusel. It’s a side dish worthy of supporting the turkey and cornbread dressing at any southern Thanksgiving table.

Soon we’ll all be enjoying one of the most festive days of the year – Thanksgiving! Honestly, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Sweet potato casserole in a baking dish with a vintage serving spoon.

There’s none of the gift buying and giving pressure that there is for Christmas, the decorations are beautiful without being so over the top, and the whole day is all about food! Even more, the idea of setting aside a day on which to just be “thankful” is humbling.

We may grumble about our situation sometimes, we may look at what others have accomplished with just a tinge of “wishfulness,” but if we truly look around we’ll find so much for which we should give thanks.

I was planning my Thanksgiving menu a few days ago and, as usual, it included my classic Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving here without sweet potatoes in some form or fashion and this casserole just happens to be my favorite.

This is essentially the same recipe that my mother has served for years. Some folks like theirs topped with marshmallows and some with this pecan and brown sugar mixture. I like either!

This dish features mounds of mashed sweet potatoes mixed with brown sugar and vanilla. It’s finished off with a pecan streusel topping made of flour, brown sugar, and chopped pecans with just a touch of melted butter.

It’s always the perfect dish to accompany the cornbread dressing, baked curried fruit, broccoli casserole, potatoes au gratin, and a beautifully roasted turkey, of course!

When I was growing up, this recipe was called Sweet Potato Souffle. I think that’s possibly because of the egg in the recipe which gives a bit of a rise or lift to the sweet potatoes. Somewhere along the line, we started calling it a casserole. Either way, it’s just plain delicious!


  • INDULGENT – It’s a sweet, nutty, buttery indulgent side dish for your holiday feast.
  • EASYVery easy to make. The hardest thing about this recipe is stopping yourself from diving in before dinner is served.
  • MAKE AHEAD It can be made ahead of time. I’ll explain more in the post below.

Equipment You’ll Find Useful

You’ll need a large pot for cooking the sweet potatoes, a large bowl and hand mixer for whipping up the filling, a casserole dish, and a small bowl for the topping.

Lana’s Cooking is reader-supported. When you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Ingredient Notes

There’s absolutely nothing unusual or exotic about the ingredients for this recipe. You might already have everything in your pantry and fridge that you’ll need.

  • Sweet Potatoes (You’ll need three medium sweet potatoes. A total weight of about 16 to 20 ounces. When choosing sweet potatoes, look for short plump ones. Longer, skinnier ones tend to be stringy.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Cook the Sweet Potatoes

Photo collage showing sweet potatoes before and after cooking.

Rinse the sweet potatoes to remove any residual dirt. Place them in a deep pot with enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a high simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

COOK’S TIP 
Test the potatoes for tenderness with a fork or sharp knife. When the fork or knife slides easily into the potato with no resistance at all, they’re done.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the water and allow them to cool enough to handle. I slice them open to hurry the cooling process.

Heat the Oven and Prep the Dish

While the sweet potatoes cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a baking dish. I typically use my 3-quart oval baking dish for this recipe.

Make the Sweet Potato Mixture

Photo collage showing cooked sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl being mashed and remaining ingredients added.

Peel the sweet potatoes, place them in a mixing bowl, and mash using a potato masher or large fork. Add the softened butter, light brown sugar, milk, egg, and vanilla.

Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

COOK’S TIP 
If your sweet potatoes are still quite warm, wait until you’ve beaten them for a minute or so before you add the egg. This will help lower the temperature and stop the egg from cooking in the heat of the sweet potatoes.

Add Potatoes to Baking Dish

An oval baking dish containing the mashed sweet potato mixture.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Make the Pecan Topping

Sweet potato mixture in a baking dish with pecan-brown sugar mixture added to the top.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping. Use a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture.

Bake for 30 Minutes

Bake for 30 minutes in the 350 degree preheated oven.

Sweet potato casserole in a baking dish with a vintage serving spoon.

Makes 6 servings. Easily doubles to serve a larger crowd.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Many people enjoy sweet potato casserole with a toasted marshmallow topping. If you’d rather make that version, simply leave off the pecan streusel and add mini marshmallows. Or do both! Add the marshmallows on top of the pecan topping for the best of both worlds.
  • Pecans are tradtional in the topping, but you can also try walnuts or almonds.
  • To make a dairy-free version, substitute the milk and butter for coconut milk and dairy-free margarine.
  • To make the recipe gluten free, substitute the flour with checkpea, almond, oat, or rice flour.
  • A vegan version may be made by using a dairy-free butter alternative and nut milk instead of whole milk. You’ll skip the egg as well, but that really won’t make much difference.

Make Ahead and Storage Information

  • Make Ahead: Cook and mash the sweet potatoes and add them to the baking dish. Mix the pecan streusel and store it in a zip-top bag. When ready to cook, bring the potatoes to room temperature, add the topping and bake.
  • Storage: Store, covered in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • Freezing: The cooked casserole can be cooled and frozen. Cover well and freeze for up to three months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is “three medium sweet potatoes?”

There isn’t much agreement between online sources as to what constitutes a “medium sweet potato.” I generally consider about 5 to 7 ounces per sweet potato to be a medium size. For this recipe, you’d need to purchase about 16 to 20 ounces total weight of sweet potatoes.

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

In the United States, we often use the terms yam and sweet potato interchangeably. They are, however, two completely different foods. Yams usually have dark brown skin and light, almost white flesh where sweet potatoes have reddish skin with golden yellow to orange or pinkish flesh. You’re unlikely to find actual yams in a supermarket produce section.

Can I use canned sweet potatoes?

You can use canned sweet potatoes in this recipe, but there will be subtle differences in taste. For this recipe, you’d need at least two 16-ounce cans of candied yams (not yams at all – see above), well drained. You’ll also need to adjust the sugar because the canned yams will already be sweetened. I recommend Bruce’s brand for canned, candied yams.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
AND REMEMBER TO SIGN UP FOR MY FACEBOOK GROUP.
If you’d like to hang out with me and lots of other online Southern Comfort Food lovers, make sure to join my FREE PRIVATE Facebook group.

Recipe

Sweet potato casserole in a baking dish with a vintage serving spoon.

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

This southern heritage recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole has a layer of buttery, cooked sweet potatoes topped with a crunchy pecan and brown sugar streusel.
5 from 9 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 305kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter

Instructions

  • Rinse the sweet potatoes to remove any residual dirt. Place them in a deep pot with enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a high simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.
  • Remove the sweet potatoes from the water and allow them to cool enough to handle. (I slice them open to hurry the cooling process.)
  • While the sweet potatoes cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter a baking dish. I typically use my 3-quart oval baking dish for this recipe.
  • Peel the sweet potatoes, place them in a mixing bowl, and mash using a potato masher or large fork. Add the softened butter, light brown sugar, milk, egg, and vanilla.
  • Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Spread the sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping. Use a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture.
  • Bake for 30 minutes in the 350 degree preheated oven.

Notes

Makes 6 servings. Easily doubles to serve a larger crowd.
Ingredients:
  • You’ll need about three medium sweet potatoes. A total weight of about 16 to 20 ounces. When choosing sweet potatoes, look for short plump ones. Longer, skinnier sweet potatoes tend to be stringy.
Tips:
  • If your sweet potatoes are still quite warm, wait until you’ve beaten them for a minute or so before you add the egg. This will help lower the temperature and stop the egg from cooking in the heat of the sweet potatoes.
  • Pecans are tradtional in the topping, but you can also try walnuts or almonds.
  • To make a dairy-free version, substitute the milk and butter for coconut milk and dairy-free margarine.
  • To make the recipe gluten free, substitute the flour with checkpea, almond, oat, or rice flour.
  • A vegan version may be made by using a dairy-free butter alternative and nut milk instead of whole milk. You’ll skip the egg as well, but that really won’t make much difference.
Make Ahead and Storage Information:
  • To make ahead, cook and mash the sweet potatoes and add them to the baking dish. Mix the pecan streusel and store it in a zip-top bag. When ready to cook, bring the potatoes to room temperature, add the topping and bake.
  • Store, covered in the refrigerator for up to four days.
  • The cooked casserole can be cooled and frozen. Cover well and freeze for up to three months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.
Questions:
  • How much is “three medium sweet potatoes?” There isn’t much agreement between online sources as to what constitutes a “medium sweet potato.” I generally consider about 5 to 7 ounces per sweet potato to be a medium size. For this recipe, you’d need to purchase about 16 to 20 ounces total weight of sweet potatoes.
  • Can I use canned sweet potatoes? You can use canned sweet potatoes in this recipe, but there will be subtle differences in taste. For this recipe, you’d need at least two 16-ounce cans of candied yams (not yams at all – see above), well drained. You’ll also need to adjust the sugar because the canned yams will already be sweetened. I recommend Bruce’s brand for canned, candied yams.
 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 452mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 16385IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

Share on Facebook Pin Recipe
Tried this recipe? Pin it for Later!Follow @LanasCookingBlog or tag #LanasCooking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




35 Comments

    1. If you’re doubling the recipe, you’ll need to cook until the internal temperature reach 160 to make sure the eggs are fully cooked. The serving size is simply 1/6 of the full recipe. A precise measurement would depend on the size and weight of the potatoes you use. It’s just not exact.

  1. This was an excellent recipe! I made it exactly as in the recipe and it turned out perfectly. Everyone in the family loved it and every scrap got eaten. Will be making this again!!

  2. If I were to use canned sweet potatoes, how many should I use? I don’t have time to prepare them with fresh… plus I need to make enough for 12+ people. should I triple everything?

      1. Hi Marcia. Yes, I usually make it the day before and put the topping in a separate container. Store both in the fridge and then put the topping on right before baking it. Works fine.